ATLANTA — A strong case could be made that Michael Dickson is the only sure thing on the Texas roster. That’s right, the punter.
Dickson finished his sophomore season with a school-record 47.4 yards per punt, the third-best average in the nation. He boomed 25 punts that went 50 yards or more and smashed a career-long 74-yarder against TCU.
The Australian-born Dickson didn’t expect to win the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter. Dickson truly believed Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky would go home a winner. After all, Dickson said, Wishnowsky had fractionally better statistics. “It’s a numbers thing,” Dickson said beforehand. “It’s pretty objective.”
True to form, Wishnowsky’s name was called as the Ray Guy winner on the Thursday at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Wishnowsky averaged 48 yards per punt on five fewer attempts than Dickson. The third finalist, Ohio State’s Cameron Johnson, averaged 46.2 yards this season.
If anything, Dickson just enjoyed the free trip to Atlanta and was eager to get back home and get back to work. Now, his career may really take flight.
Dickson is essentially self-taught. He’s ready to get back to Austin, attack the weight room and come back stronger than ever for new coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns.
“I’m trying to do everything,” Dickson said. “I saw how much work I did and how that helped me in one year. If I can improve by the same way next year, I want to go out there and feel like nothing can stop me. This off-season, I’m really excited for it.”
By now, Dickson’s story is well known. He grew up in Sydney, Australia, playing Australian-rules football, but he grew burned out and looked for something else. Dickson was enamored with another Australian, Sav Rocca, who was punting in the NFL, and gave it a shot.
Former Texas coach Charlie Strong was in need of a punter before the 2015 season after Will Russ’ departure. Dickson accepted a scholarship offer without ever visiting the United States. He simply hopped on a flight leaving his country headed for Austin.
Two years later, he’s the nation’s best. On Wednesday, the Big 12 office announced that Dickson was the league’s special teams player of the year.
Dickson had 28 punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 13 downed inside the 10. The opponents who took over inside their own 10-yard line managed just seven points all season.
If Dickson keeps progressing, multiple NFL teams will give him a look at some point.
Asked if anyone told him he would be winning national awards some day, Dickson said, “I would have not believed you, but deep down, I believed I had the potential to do that. But I wouldn’t let it get to my head or anything. I’d say that’s the end goal, and that’s where I want to be.
“I wouldn’t laugh at you. I’d say, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ ”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.